17 Aug 2017

Gutenberg Overview 2017: A Distraction-Free Writing Experience

Gutenberg Overview 2017: A Distraction-Free Writing Experience

You must be curious about the recent fuzz going on about “Gutenberg.” Gutenberg is the brand new editor for WordPress. And yes, you are absolutely right…the name is given after famous printing press inventor Johannes Gutenberg. This beta plugin is already downloaded by ~1000+ WordPress users, which is why different reviews are just flying by. Some of them are already comparing it with “Calypso” editor while others are just accepting the changes without single query. Some of the users are happy while others have “bad feeling” about this.

So, here we are, keeping aside the buzzes let’s learn about the real staffs and critical discussions about Gutenberg plugin.

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is the newly launched editor for WordPress. Still, it is at the beta stage yet taking all of the limelight. The WordPress developers are continuously trying to improve user experience and making WordPress easier even for the novice website developers. As per Matt Mullenweg, Making Gutenberg is an effective step to improve the user experience. This plugin is now available in Google plugin directory and downloaded by more than 1000 WordPress users.

What is gutenberg

However, it is fair to mention that this plugin is now beta stage, hence it is not appropriate to install in a good and active site. Even the developers are flashing cautious message “This is beta software, do not run on production sites!” everywhere.

To be fair comments are coming from the installers and those are not all good. In fact, Gutenberg as a plugin is not receiving satisfactory reviews and ratings. It has only 2.3 rating with 52 one star ratings (as of 10 August 2017), leaving a poor impression on the visitors! Most of the users are complaining about the user interface, bugs, and blocks. But, hey there are good hopes too. Fixing few bugs can really improve this plugin and make it applicable for the WordPress core.

How to install it

If you are interested to try yourself, here is the easiest process to download the app and install it on your WordPress site.

How to install Gutenberg plugin

Gutenberg is now at testing phase and the beta version is available in WordPress repository. You can also find it by searching it under the “Add New” plugin option of your dashboard. Here, we are obliged to say that “This is beta software, do not run on production sites!” It is better if you build a staging site to test this plugin first and then if it works well try it on the main site. Otherwise, using a beta stage plugin in the live site can lead to the white screen of death.

Key Features of Gutenberg

Here is the example post (how your site will look like):

example post

Your posts will have a “Gutenberg” edit option along with “edit” and “quick edit” as soon as you finish installing. Gutenberg editor does not swap the default WordPress editor completely. At least not this version does so. It is definitely a good thing.

Now, after exploring this plugin thoroughly here is our opinion and a complete overview of the plugin:

  • Blocks

Adding blocks is a simple trick to make WordPress simpler for the users. While launching Gutenberg, WordPress promises to simplify the process of creating rich block content.

Newly introduced Table Block is now much easier. You can include a table within the editor easily. From now, users don’t have to install other plugins to insert tables in the content. Currently, users are allowed to insert a 2×2 customizable table and cannot style it without moving to the text view. However, it is expected that soon they will fix table blocks by making it more flexible.

welcome to gutenberg editor

Live HTML block is another newly added option. Here you can add your code and see the preview right on the block. This is a very good idea as the website developers don’t have to switch pages back and forth between text editor mode and visual editor mode in the middle of editing.

The Gutenberg editor is offering you a privilege to drag and drop images in the image block. It is just similar to the visual editor. However, you may experience a fade effect, which is a strange issue and need to be fixed.

Image drag

In addition, you can also insert additional classes to different blocks.

  • Distraction-Free Writing

This is the layout of a Text Editor:

Welcome to gutenberg editor

As you can see, the layout is really clear and a great step towards making it complete distraction free. You can clear the Post Setting widget anytime clicking on the “×” mark and make the window distraction free. Most of the options are neatly placed in the “insert” tab. For this feature, you have to give a five-star rating to Gutenberg.

  • Visual Builder

A glimpse of Visual Editor:

gutenberg visual editor

Yes, Gutenberg is building a bridge between a text editor and Visual editor. It is helping WordPress slowly to convert into a Visual Builder. In Gutenberg editor, literally, you have to put every element in its respective block, such as header, new paragraph, video, image, bulleted list, table and so on. Hence, you cannot write simple three lines under the bulleted list. What I mean is, Gutenberg will push you to maintain the rule of every block. According to this new rule, you have to create a new block each time while using new fonts, spacing, colour, and style. So, you can see, when the block rich system is introduced to ease user experience, it is actually making it more difficult!

  • Button

hi there

A call-to-action button is always great to allure the viewer to engage more. Most of the bloggers and affiliated sales’ sites use this feature. Right now, you can add similar buttons with the visual editor. It is not in great shape…but is good enough to get along. This feature still has a scope of improvement.

  • Ciao to Copy-and-Paste

Many content writers have a habit to write content and formatting it outside of WordPress. They copy paste the content when it is 100% ready to go. The devastating part is, your all previous formatting will be lost when you paste it into the editor. So, if you are using Gutenberg editor, you have to follow a new copywriting procedure.

Possible Cons of Gutenberg

As per the Official description of Gutenberg, the goal of the block editor is to make adding rich content to WordPress simple and enjoyable. But, the current Gutenberg editor is lagging behind to meet its goal. Here are possible difficulties or cons that you might face while using the beta version of Gutenberg editor:

  • Limited Image editing options, which mean, you have no option for alignment, hyperlinking and sizing while selecting an image or uploading image to the images block. Besides, when you upload an image it automatically scales to the full width.
  • Video Embedding option is really complicated and may need the help from WordPress support services if you are not good with codes.
  • Gutenberg editor does not allow plugin meta boxes like Yoast SEO, which is a disturbing news.
  • It does not support responsive columns. If Gutenberg is interested to replace the visual builder plugin, then it should include this feature.

Although we have made this long list of cons, it is wise to mention again that Gutenberg editor is now it’s testing phase and hope to overcome most of the issues.

Discussions and Opinions

Thanks to Matt Cronwell’s research, we managed to come up with different opinions and discussions about the most controversial plugin of this year “Gutenberg” editor.

As per Joost de Valk (founder of Yoast SEO), the concept of ‘little blocks’ allows a deep optimization of how people analyse post content, as instead of analysing the whole thing, they can do it block by block. He is also excited about the pre-publishing workflow feature of Gutenberg and actively thinking about integrating snippet preview there. It is indeed a good news for us, but Gutenberg does not support Yoast SEO yet.

Same encouraging signature is reflected in the thought of Bridget Willard (Marketing Manager at WordImpress). As per Bridget, Gutenberg changes how a user interacts with the CMS, not how the content is read by Google.

However, Pam Ann Aungst (President at Pam Ann Marketing) is worried about Gutenberg as pagebuilder-type things like this editor tend to bloat the code, which also brings down page speed. When AMP is now top on the priority list, compromising page speed for Gutenberg is unwanted.

On the other hand, plugin authors like Joen Asmussen (Code Wrangler at Automattic) and John James Jacoby (lead developer for bbPress and BuddyPress) welcomed block rich concept, as it is an evolution of shortcode interface.

Even page builders like Robby McCullough (Co-Founder at Beaver Builder) is also excited about this new block rich editor. He said, adapting to change is always tough, but there are lots of potentials for us to leverage Gutenberg and vice versa.

Yes, it is true and we can conclude only one thing from this discussion that Gutenberg is bringing change in WordPress world. Something good is already happening and a couple of fixing can lead towards something better.

Wrapping up

Technology thrives on changes and modification. ‘Lightbringer’ or not, Gutenberg is definitely bringing massive changes in WordPress. Till now, it is in testing mode at beta phase. People who have downloaded and installed this app are offering their critical views, which is an impressive mixture of good and bad. It is hoped that the feedbacks will be well analysed by the developers and further changes will be made to improve the user experience.

So, stay tuned to learn next updates!

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